Copyright protection grants exclusive rights to the owner over their creative work. Any individual who wants to use that work in any way must seek permission from the copyright owner. Essentially, different types of works grant different rights.

Artistic, dramatic, literary or musical works

The owner of an artistic, dramatic, literary or musical “work” is entitled to the following exclusive rights:

  • To reproduce the work (including audio recording, film, duplicate copy or scan);
  • To publish the work to the public for the first time; and
  • To communicate the work to the public (such as broadcasting or performance piece).

Further, the owner of a dramatic, literary or musical work is entitled to two additional rights:

  • To perform the work to the public; and
  • To create an adaptation (for instance, a dramatic production of a literary work or a musical arrangement of a play).

Films, broadcasts, audio recordings and published pieces

The owner of a film, broadcast, audio recording or published piece is entitled to the following exclusive rights:

  • To copy the work;
  • To enable it to be seen or heard by the public;
  • To communicate the work to the public (including online and electronic broadcasts); and
  • To rent the work for commercial purposes (applicable to audio recordings, computer programs and material on sound recordings).

Licensing and Assigning rights

Copyright owners may execute the aforementioned rights by themselves or may grant permission to another individual or entity to do so. This is referred to as licensing rights. Comparatively, assigning rights means that the individual or entity becomes the copyright owner.

Assigning and licensing rights are applicable to all the rights in the material (i.e. as a whole), or to one or some of the rights in the work. For instance, a musician is entitled to assign or license just the right to copy his song in an album, but retain all the other rights. Further, the copyright owner may want to limit the assignment or license in many ways such as, to a particular time period, geographical location, number of reproductions or specified form. Certain conditions may also be placed on the assignment or license, for example, payments or warranties.

All assignments or licenses must be in writing and signed by the copyright owner in order to take effect. It is also a good idea to have any copyright agreements be in written form and be advised by an IP lawyer.

Moral rights

Aside from the economic rights as explained above, copyright owners are also entitled to moral rights over a work. Moral rights refer to the right of attribution of authorship of a creative work, in other words, the right to be identified in connection with the work. It also includes the right against false attribution of authorship and right of integrity of authorship of a work, in other words, the ability to object against the treatment of the work that would damage the owner’s reputation.

Moral rights are applicable to all creators of dramatic, musical and literary works, film-makers as well as performers. The right of integrity of authorship for film-makers is restricted to the creator’s lifetime. For all other works, moral rights are applicable throughout the term stated in the copyright agreement.

Whilst moral rights cannot be assigned or licensed, the copyright owner may grant written consent for his or her work to be used in a way that would normally be considered an infringement of moral rights.

An infringement of moral rights warrants various legal remedies. Such remedies include an order for damages, apology from the infringer or injunctive relief. If you believe your moral rights to your work have been infringed, one of LegalVision’s experienced IP lawyers will gladly assist so just give us a call on 1300 544 755.

Lachlan McKnight
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